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Detroit MLK Day 2012: A Day Of Activism, Service, Thoughtful Celebration

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This year's celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday comes at an ominous time for the city of Detroit. But even as financial problems and the threat of an emergency manager loom on the horizon, the ideals embodied by Dr. King are inspiring an outpouring of energy, volunteerism and activism around town. Here's a look at what's going on in remembrance of the Civil RIghts martyr.

March On Gov. Rick Snyder's Home

Perhaps the most high-profile event planned for Jan. 12 is a march on Gov. Snyder's Superior Township home to protest the emergency manager law, Public Act 4. The act allows the governor to install hand-picked officials to manage Michigan cities that fail to pass a financial stress test.

Occupy for Democracy, one of the event's sponsors, put out this call for the march on its Facebook page:

"In the tradition of Dr. King, we are going to stand in solidarity and fight for the promise of our democratic freedom. In response to Michigan leaders passing the Emergency Manager law that allows the state to appoint CEOs with absolute control [over Michigan cities] ... We are sending out a call to action for all Americans to Occupy Superior Twp for Democracy."

Other supporters of the event include AFSCME, Jobs With Justice, Labor Notes, Occupy Detroit, NAACP Sugar Law Center, the Michigan Education Association, the United Auto Workers, United Steel Workers af America, elected officials and clergy from around the state. The march will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Protesters will meet at Washtenaw Community College and march to the governor's house. Organizers plan to bus Detroit and Highland Park residents to the event.

Historic Downtown Church To Hold Ninth Annual MLK, Jr. Day March and Rally

Detroit's historic Central United Methodist Church, a place where Dr. King often preached at during his visits to Detroit, will host it's ninth annual march and rally on Monday.

The kickoff rally will include a panel discussion by the four co-editors of the collection "Hands on the Freedom Plow," a book that looks at the important role female Civil RIghts activists played within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Special guest speakers include Prof. Gloria House, Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, Marilyn Lowen and Dr. Gwen M. Patton.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President Arlene Holt Baker will also make a statement to rally attendees. The Mosaic Theatre Youth Choir and the Matrix Theatre will give presentations.

Organizers say the march will highlight "the need to escalate the struggle for jobs, peace and justice." Afterwards, the Wobbly Solidarity Kitchen and other volunteers will provide a community meal. A cultural program will feature performers Jessica Care Moore, Markita Moore, Tracey Morris, Sister Otis, Writer L. Bush and the KDJ Trio, among others.

The program is free and open to the public and starts at noon. Central United Methodist Church is located at 23 East Adams off of Woodward Ave. in Detroit. For more information about this event visit www.mlkdetroit.org.

MLK, Jr. Day with Grace Lee Boggs, Frithjof Bergman and R. Messiah

Detroit's Church of the Messiah will celebrate the day with activists and intellectuals Grace Lee Boggs, Frithjof Bergman and Ron Scott. These speakers and several others will reflect on Dr. King’s concept of "beloved community" and its relationship to contemporary Detroit grassroots activism, including urban farming, public art and politics based on compassion.

"This week's celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday is not about looking back. It's about building forward, remembering that the ultimate goal is to reach the Beloved Community, where we turn to each other and not against each other," said Ron Scott, a member of the Coalition Against Police Brutality and Peace Zones for Life, in a press release.

The event wil take place from 2 to 5 p.m. at Church of the Messiah, 231 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Sponsors include The Boggs Center, East Side People's Festival, Freedom Growers, Peace Zones For Life, Re-Imagining Work, the Black Community Food Security Network, the Urban Network, Church of the Messiah, and the East Michigan Environmental Action Council.

City Year/ United Way / Guidance Center Volunteer Actions

City Year will be team up Monday with the United Way of SE Michigan and the Guidance Center to coordinate over 1,200 volunteers across Metro Detroit for a day of service tied to the holiday. Activities will begin with at rally at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building in Detroit. Projects will include school cleanups, book stickering and food packing.

To get involved, see the United Way of SE Michigan's website for more information.

NPR host Michele Norris to speak at University of Michigan's Detroit Center

In honor of Dr. King, host of NPR's "All Things Considered" Michele Norris will present a keynote address at U-M Detroit Center at 10 a.m., Monday. Norris was named the 2009 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Journalist of the Year.

Her speech will be followed by a panel discussion that will explore citizen involvement in Detroit's neighborhoods and various efforts being made to aid the city's community development.

The discussion will be moderated by Kim Hunter of AmeriCorps. It will include Pat Miller of the U-M School of Social Work Technical Assistance Center; Riet Schumack from Neighbors Building Brightmoor; Diane McCloskey of the Detroit Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response; Ron Scott from the Grace Lee Boggs Center; and Khalil Ligon of Community Development Advocates of Detroit.

The U-M Detroit Center is located at 3663 Woodward. Free lunch and parking are available for attendees. For more information see the U-M Detroit Center website.

Cultural Events At The Wright Museum

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has a day of activities planned, lasting from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The day's schedule includes:
  • Freedom On My Mind children's workshops, 11 a.m. - 3 pm:
  • World premiere of "The Voices of the Civil War" video series, 12 p.m.
  • "A King Among Us" video tribute to Dr. King and discussion, 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Free health screenings sponsored by the African American Physicians Group, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Music of the Movement concert featuring Armond with Sandra Feva Dance, 1:30 p.m. & 3 p.m.
  • "This Little Light of Mine" children's storytelling, 2 p.m.

Visitors to the museum will have a chance to meet characters of the Civil Rights Movement and witness a scale model of the Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial

The Wright museum is located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit. For more information visit the Wright museum's website.

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